Motionlab Active Commute Rucksack review

Motionlab Active Commute Rucksack front

Between work and life, it can often a be a squeeze to get your runs in. That’s why the run commute is a popular way to use time spent travelling to your workplace more wisely. But a successful run commute comes down to one essential piece of kit: a good running rucksack. Is the new Motionlab Active Commute Rucksack the answer to our run commute prayers? Amy Robson finds out…

The need for a running rucksack

In my line of work, there is a lot of weight on my shoulders. I won’t go in to the specifics. It involves the NHS, many frantic moments, and little time to capitalise on running opportunities mid-work.

That is, until now…

Let’s face it, one of the biggest hindrances for us working runners isn’t necessarily time, it’s logistics.

Running gear is not work gear. Work gear is not running gear. Hydration and nutrition are important. So are things like work tech, documents and the like. A good bag is essential. And, even though many ultra bags are great at taking the intrepid explorer from point A to B with vital kit, they’re not really made for the daily grind.

This was the struggle that I, like many other runners, faced. It was this frustration at the lack of solutions to a comfortable and realistic run commute that led me to the Motionlab Active Commute Rucksack.

Who is Motionlab?

If you haven’t heard of Motionlab yet, I can promise you you’re missing out. Its state-of-the-art Active Commute Rucksack has been the talk of running media around the globe.

Passionate about helping facilitate natural human movement, Motionlab wanted to help alleviate the pain 80% of us suffer in our backs. This is especially aggravated by load-bearing activities.

To this end, Motionlab created a bag that probably has a smarter spine than my own in terms of design and functionality. It is optimally designed – alongside the bag’s shatterproof, anodised aluminium frame – to allow for the body to have near-complete movement and a more natural spinal position during use.

As well as this, the bag still has an internal capacity of 22L, without all of its additional pockets. Now that’s a bag made for the performance-aware athlete.

Motionlab Active Commute Rucksack side

A bag beyond

Now, I might not be a Scott Jurek or a Eluid Kipchoge when it comes to my running results, but I do take my personal training and achievements rather seriously. I know I love running, and I try to optimise my life to do what I love as much as possible.

I’m also astutely aware that what we do during a run has an impact on other aspects of our lives and vice versa. Carrying a rucksack that is less-than-suited for you (even when not running) may not seem like much in the moment. Yet, gradually, bit by bit, the detrimental impact of putting your spine out of alignment, overloading your body, and not giving yourself free physical moment will make you hurt both on the race course and off it.

I entered in to trying the Motionlab Active Commute Rucksack not just as a hopeful solution for run commuting, but as a way to save my back whenever I was in need of carrying large loads from place to place.

Consider it part of my holistic (or perhaps barmy) approach to fully comprehensive runner’s maintenance.

My running rucksack experience

I must admit, this bag is extremely overwhelming when it first arrives. The frame-based design itself is so entirely foreign from most rucksacks that it takes time to get used to. There’s no casual throwing this bad boy over your shoulder. Trust me – I’ve tried. All that happened was I got hit in the arm by the frame!

This bag is as much about security and injury prevention as it is freedom. Its design really is focused towards this. You’ll likely take a bit of time learning how to adjust to the two-strap system (chest and hip), which are in place to allow the suspension system to work. I certainly had a few fiddly moments at first. But once you learn it, you learn it.

If ever you do get lost, Motionlab offers many videos on its website too in order to help, and it has an incredibly receptive feedback system in place. It just recently changed out its BreathEZ buckle section for the chest on the bags. I can attest to the massive difference it makes in terms of pressure contrast – probably one of my biggest bugbears with the bag until now.

Pockets for days

Once I’d adjusted to the strap system, the next thing that left me in awe of the Motionlab Active Commute Rucksack was the large capacity. I’m not even kidding. This bag has so many pockets, sub-sections and cubby holes that it sometimes feels like a case of Where’s Wally when trying to remember which pocket holds what!

There’s an internal bike pump loop, a key holder, a stiff divider to keep precious work clothes unruffled during activities, pen holders, a tablet pocket and a padded sleeve that takes up to a 15” laptop. This bag means business and it facilitates business, all while acting as the perfect running companion.

From my personal runs I’d say the only thing I really felt was lacking storage-wise were two compartments on the straps to allow for a phone and maybe a flask/gels/bars to be stored. I feel like this does really hinder this bag’s benefits in terms of running, because I strongly value the ability to easily grab those few items.

Motionlab Active Commute Rucksack open

On the run

Here’s where I get honest. For £189 (RRP), you might be expecting this bag to feel like a comfortable, seamless, near-floating dream of an experience, as you jaunt from one executive task to another. While I do wish this was the case, I have a bit of a reality check to lay down.

This bag is 100% worthy of an investment for business or work individuals who want the freedom to run, cycle, or generally engage in active commutes during their working week. It outstrips all of the competition out there by miles when it comes to injury prevention, sensible capacity, and safe, sustainable freedom of movement. But, the ideal product for job may not always meet our expectations for what feels ideal.

At first, the Motionlab Active Commute Rucksack will likely feel awkward and unlike anything you’ve ever worn before. Probably because you never have – and so that’s to be expected.

Both in terms of feeling and appearance, the Motionlab Bag felt entirely out of place strapped around my body on the first few outings. However, it didn’t once rattle and wriggle awkwardly around my back and shoulders. And it never felt like I was carrying a load anywhere near what I was in reality.

The Motionlab Active Commute Rucksack feels almost as if it’s hovering away from the body rather than acting as an intuitive part of it – but that’s kind of the point. Whereas normal running rucksacks cling to you, weighing you down on the commute, Motionlab has created a bag that offers your body distance, as well as the support it needs.

Final verdict

There really is no other bag quite on the market like it. Even in this rather long review, it’s hard to summarise all of the additional features it has to offer.

So, buy it, wear it and be liberated through it! I can honestly say I never need to worry about run commuting again.

Big thanks to Motionlab for providing this bag for review (all opinions are entirely my own). If you’re keen to try it yourself, Motionlab is kindly offer a whopping 30% discount code (which equates to over £55!), plus free shipping and a 30-day risk-free trial, by using the code ‘RUNDEEP’ at the checkout.

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